The Kathmandu visa situation.

2004 01 19

The latest info I have received:
Group permits is the only way to go from Kathmandu. A separate piece of paper which is issued by Chinese Authorities.
No way to get over the border without it. A hassle to extend this in some parts/cities of China.

Updated 20030419

Contrary to what some famous and useless guide books says, it has always been possible to get a 90 day Chinese visa in Kathmandu without any hassle whatsoever. Now this seems to have changed a bit and further down you can read some of the info which has been sent to me lately.

Some of this is third and fourth hand info, so I can't really verify any of it. Read it and judge yourself. There are many ways around the problem as far as I can see.


Hello Nadine and Janne

( a personal part of this email has been cut out)

. today I get my passport back with a soft red cancelled stamp (maybe he would loss colour on the high attitude). I real see now no system in the Chinese rules (us -visa should be since this week also more expensive, but that snot my problem. but I see a way for me. my permit which I can use also outside Tibet is 37days that mean. that I would have more then two weeks from Lhasa to leave Tibet and I hope that I can made the 1200 k to golmund in ca 10 days (I think and hope, I have good wind condition,) and then I have to find a place in golmund for my bike and bags. and have to find out the situation about my papers, when it s impossible. I have to travel! (long way / train ) to Hong Kong for a new visa where it s should be no problem for the Pakistan visa. other way with no Chinese visa problems I would go to Beijing for the Pakistan visa. I will see

Thanks Andy

Here a experience from a another traveller, maybe it s useful for you.

Finally heard from Soeren, the German guy travelling overland across Tibet who was the guinea pig for visa extensions.  Basically, although the transport was terrible the journey was good. He got his visa extended without hassles. It was his CANCELLED individual tourist that was extended (not his Group Permit).  In a follow-up email he recommended that we get an entry stamp for China made into our passports at the border to be sure we don't run into troubles when we try and leave on Group Permits (which carries all the stamps).  Business as usual (fingers crossed we can extend our Group Permit in Yunnan).   

Hi Edwin!    
I hope my information are still useful for you,   maybe you've left to Tibet already. I've spent the   last three weeks outside the civilized world so I   couldn't check my mails.   First of all the good news (no, there aren't any bad   ones): The trip overland to China was smooth, I   didn't encounter any problems at all. I've already   got a visa extension so I still have one month left;   even a second extension shouldn't be a problem.   As you know I got one month on my visa; that's quite   important since you definitely can't extend your   visa in Tibet. Therefore try, if possible, to get AT   LEAST one month. I met a guy who got 40 days, so be   persistent as I suppose it takes some time to get   out of Tibet by bicycle.   I didn't spent much time in actual Tibet, just   stayed three days in Lhasa before continuing to   Golmud and Xining. In Lhasa I visited the PSB where   I was told that the group visa is definitely valid   for travelling in mainland China. My advice is not   to bother with them as they don't have any useful   information, not to mention travel permits, visa   extensions and so on.   In Xining again I went to the local PSB to do some   more research. The staff told me that my group visa   is equivalent to an individual one and therefore   extendable but I had to wait until it is almost   expiring. With that confirmation I did a long trip   from Xining to Yunnan through some of the most   remote Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Sichuan (via Maduo,   Xiewu, Serxu, Sequ, Ganzi, Kangding, Litang,   Daocheng, Xiangcheng, Zhongdian and finally   Lijiang).

The trip was great but very exhausting; I   haven't met any people speaking a single word   English (not to mention any foreigners) anywhere,   actually even Chinese speakers were quite rare. It   was freezing cold, around minus 20, transportation   was the worst I've experienced during my trip   (including Afghanistan). But, anyway, it was a great   experience and I didn't regret having rushed through   actual Tibet so quickly. The scenery is really   breathtaking, even compared to the Friendship Hwy   and villages are more Tibetan than in Tibet with g!   real architecture, no Han influence at all. Most of   the time stayed with the locals, sometimes in   monasteries.   In case you don't manage to slip through the   checkpoints in Eastern Tibet to get to Sichuan and   have to go along the Tibet-Qinghai Hwy to Golmud   (the scenery is just as boring and inhabited as   all travel guides say), I can highly recommend that   Qinghai-Yunnan route, especially by bicycle. By the   way, weather should be fairly ok by the time you   arrive.   Eventually, after more than two weeks travelling   from Xining, I'm in Lijiang now, back in   civilization again. About my visa: I just went to   the local PSB where the guy told me that my   (cancelled) individual visa is still valid and   therefore extendable and gave me a one month   extension within five minutes for the usual 100   Yuan. That's obviously rubbish since my visa HAS   been cancelled (you've seen the stamp, haven't you?)   but who cares? I've got my extension which is some   kind of separate visa sticker (looks just like the   normal individual visa with zero entry permissions   as I'm in China already anyway), so neither my group   nor my cancelled individual visa should matter   anymore.   Essentially, my advice for you is the following:   don't worry about your visa, just make sure you are   in a non-sensitive area (i.e. not Tibet, not Golmud,   not the Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan)   when it's expiring. The PSB will either extend your   group visa or your cancelled individual one. Despite   all the horror stories they are usually quite   friendly and if they don't have a clue about that   weird group visa (often the case) it should even   work in your favour. Even a second extension is   apparently no problem. By my own experiences I can   tell you that Xining and Lijiang are perfect cities   to extend your visa but other places in mainland   China should do the trick just as well.   Some words about the roads out of Tibet.

When I was   in Lhasa it was hardly possible to get any permits   at all and hitchhiking didn't seem to promise great   success. Furthermore, in March it was just to cold   to camp so I didn't meet any more adventurous   travellers. Actually I haven't met anybody having   done a more special route into or out of Tibet. But   apparently I'm less optimistic than you so I'm sure   you're going to find a way. Curiously, the road from   Zhongdian in Yunnan to Lhasa has recently opened up   for tour groups (but not the other way around)   though it's ridiculously expensive, around 30.000   Yuan for a land cruiser. Maybe that's a good omen and   you stand better chances slipping through from   Lhasa. Again, your group visa won't make things more   risky or difficult. Once you've mad it to Sichuan or   Yunnan, nobody will care anymore and you'll be able   to get an extension easily.   So, basically, things are just the same as they used   to be; the crucial point is still the closed roads   to mainland China but not the visa.    

When you've made it to China let me know!     Cheers   Soeren